Police investigating hate crime at River Heights restaurant

By | February 4, 2019

Winnipeg Police Service says they’re looking into a hate crime at a vandalized River heights restaurant.

Owners of the BerMax Caffe + Bistro discovered the word “Jew” spray-painted on their glass door and parking rail Friday morning. The family-owned establishment, which is operated by a Jewish family, says this is an anti-Semitic attack.

“Just recently we were talking about the Holocaust,” co-owner, Maxim Berent said.

“Yet in 2019, this is what happens.”

Berent said his family was saddened and worried about the vandalism. He said he is communicating with others within the Jewish community on the matter.

Joel Lazer, vice-president of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, said the defacement is “awful” and recent acts of anti-Semitism, such as the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, have been difficult to take.

“You have to imagine that this is increasing,” Lazer said.

“We need to persevere, we need to pay attention, we need recognize when there’s a crime.”

A 2017 Statistics Canada report on hate crimes found that religion accounted for 41% of all hate crimes nationwide, an 83% jump from 2016. Hate crimes against the Jewish population accounted for 18% of all hate crimes across Canada. Crimes against the Jewish population rose from 221 in 2016 to 360 in 2017.

Winnipeg Police Service said major crimes unit investigators are looking at the incident.

Berent said city police have given the business the greenlight to remove the graffiti.